As a writer and avid reader, books are such an integral part of my life that I cannot imagine what my existence would be without them. I’d willingly give up my television and my computer, but never my personal library nor my library card. Books have the capacity to take us to worlds that we’d never otherwise visit and open us to ideas and points of view beyond our own. I am proud to claim among my friends writers, poets, storytellers, librarians, folklorists, rabid readers and so many others who appreciate and celebrate the creative expression that is the written word.
So it’s with much sadness that I now remind everyone that it is Banned Books Week, a celebration of freedom of literary expression. In a world that is growing ever closer thanks to the Internet, there are still some individuals and groups out there who would dictate what others should and should not be allowed to read. Under fire is a wide gambit of literature, from classics like Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to contemporary fiction such as Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. These books are defamed for their “offensive” content, whether it be of a religious, political, or mature nature. There are those who would censor authors, have books removed from public access, and deny us the freedom to read what we choose.
So, friends and fans, join me this week and celebrate banned books. Read a banned or challenged book, check out the American Library Association’s website, and support local events and activities during the week. Future generations of readers and writers will thank you for it!